Trucks, SUVs Drive GM & Ford April Sales

Detroit’s Big Three led auto sales higher in April, reflecting continued demand for sport-utility vehicles and trucks.

April is typically a slower month for U.S. auto sales, which tend to pick up during the summer. cautioned that although April sales were on pace to book year-over-year gains, demand appeared to lose some momentum heading into the month.

However, buyers continue to show their affection for big vehicles that generate hefty profits for manufacturers. Trucks, SUVs and crossovers accounted for more than half of March light-vehicle sales, and automakers saw more of the same in April.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) on Friday reported a 5.4% increase in monthly sales to 222,498 vehicles, as its namesake SUVs set an April record for the company.

Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds were looking for 5.1% and 5.8% growth, respectively. Ford shares added two cents to $15.82.

Ford said its new Edge fueled SUV sales. Overall sales of utilities were up 14.5%, car sales rose 0.8% and truck sales expanded 2.8%.

F-series volume fell about 1%. Ford has said sales of its popular pickup trucks will be strained while production of the company’s new aluminum-bodied F-150 ramps up.

Vans also provided a boost for Ford. The Transit, which launched in 2014, helped drive a 16% gain in commercial van sales. A total of 19,575 deliveries was Ford’s best April performance since 1987.

General Motors (NYSE:GM) sold 269,056 vehicles in April, up 5.9%, easily beating expectations.

The company’s stock rose a penny to $35.08. GM shares have trailed the broader market in 2015, posting a 0.5% gain since the start of the year.

GM’s truck sales improved 13% year-over-year, and crossover sales grew 25%. According to GM, Chevrolet is the fastest-growing truck brand so far this year. GM rolled out a new addition to its portfolio, mid-size pickup trucks, late last year.

The Chevrolet Silverado pickup, GM’s best-selling vehicle, booked sales growth of 8% with 45,978 deliveries.

Total volume at Chevrolet widened 3.4%, while GMC led the way with a 20% gain. Buick was down 5.2% for the month. Cadillac sales jumped 13.7%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) said its April sales climbed 5.8% compared to the year-ago month. The Italian-American automaker sold 189,027 vehicles.

Truck sales were mostly flat, while the Chrysler 200 provided a big boost for the brand. Chrysler sales were up 26%. Total car sales rose 29%, overshadowing truck sales that fell less than 1%.

Jeep was again a boon for FCA, as sales of the SUV brand jumped 20%. Ram Truck sales improved 4.3%. FCA sold 16% fewer Dodge-branded vehicles.

FCA shares slipped 1.8% to $14.48 in recent trading. The company’s April sales fell short of estimates from Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book.